Skip to main content

SDSU Extension Provides Professional Development Training To Promote Ag Sustainability in High School Classrooms

December 18, 2018
Two young men and a young woman sitting at a table working on a project together.
Discussing sustainable agriculture during a training session.

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Sustainable agriculture was the focus of a training session, co-hosted by SDSU Extension and University of Nebraska-Lincoln for South Dakota high school vocational agriculture educators January 5, 2018 on the campus of South Dakota State University.

"We need to educate today's youth about sustainable agriculture," explained Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist, who coordinated the event with David Karki, SDSU Extension Agronomy Field Specialist and educators from the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL).

The training was part of a pilot program designed to test new curriculum. Current teachers as well as SDSU student pursuing degrees in Agriculture Education attended the training. The following school districts were represented: Chester, Bowdle, Yankton, Bon Homme, Tri-Valley, Howard, Mitchell and Wolsey-Wessington.

During the four-hour training, the participants learned about soil aggregate stability and how to incorporate agriculture sustainability lessons into curriculum.

The Ag Sustainability curriculum promoted during the training, was developed by UNL and targeted for high school teachers in the northcentral states, including South Dakota.

"This curriculum will be provided to all teachers who participated in this training," explained Karki.

Lessons in Sustainable Agriculture

The curriculum is composed of six lessons designed to gradually improve the understanding of a sustainable production system.

"The syllabus was designed to be equally friendly to students who have farm background and those who don't," Bly said.

The six lessons that were covered during the training session included:

  1. What is a system?
  2. City Farm Game
  3. Connections to the Field Print Calculator
  4. Sustainable Ag. Case Studies
  5. Engineering- Center Pivot Irrigation
  6. Digging In- Exploring our Soils

"These lessons incorporate many in-class demonstrations, videos, and on-line farming game that could easily help students understand the concept of being sustainable," Bly said.

He added that special attention was given to environmental and natural resource conservation.

Once the educators have implemented the curriculum, they are asked to provide feedback that will be used in further development of the sustainability curriculum.
"The hope is to make the final draft of this curriculum available to agriculture educators everywhere," Karki said.

This training and curriculum was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a part of its Local Grants program.